Italian-Americans Before and During World War II

Italian-Americans Before and During World War II


>>Grant Harris: Good
evening, everyone. I’m very happy to see
all of you tonight. My name is Grant Harris. I’m chief of the European
Division here at the Library. We’re now in the
Madison building, but the European Division is
over in the Jefferson building, the oldest of the
three buildings. The mic is on, all right. Okay. So what we’re here
tonight for is for the symposium on Italian Americans before
and during World War II. The European Division is very
pleased to cosponsor this event with the greater
Washington DC region of the National Organization
of Italian American Women. That’s a long mouthful for me. That organization
gets all the credit. I like to take credit
for things, but that organization
takes all the credit for initiating this
event and bringing to us tonight three really
distinguished speakers. So now a little housekeeping,
I remind you now to turn off your cell
phones and recording devices for the duration
of this program. Also, please note that this
event is being recorded for a future Library
of Congress webcast. When we have the question
and answer session after the main presentations, understand that if you ask a
question, you are consenting to be part of the webcast. We hope you enjoy this symposium
and the treasure display that we have after that. In a bit, I’ll have Lucia
Wolfe, our specialist for Italy, come up here and
say a few words. Just please know that the
collections of the Library of Congress are for you. They’re for everybody. These are open to the public. Our specialist for Italy
Lucia will tell you something about them in a bit. And I look forward to you
all seeing the exhibit, the display afterwards. So by all means, contact Lucia if you ever have questions
concerning research and Italy. But before Lucia comes
up, I have the pleasure of interesting Diana
Femia who is president of the greater Washington
DC region of the National Organization
of Italian American Women. I made it. I made it. It is Diana who suggested
this event to the library. And I’m very pleased
to work with you. We both are, Lucia and I both. So thank you. So I now give the
floor to Diana. [ Applause ]>>Diana Femia: That’s
right, you’re taller than me. Well, I don’t have to
introduce myself, and in order to make it easy for you,
we use NOIAW as the acronym for the National Organization. We are an organization that was
established in 1980 in New York. It was a group of women who
were looking for an organization that only Italian
American Women were. Most organizations you will
find are male organizations. And so the women just
hang on somewhere. But we are the only
one in the country that has Italian American
women, and I have to say that we have Italiophiles
in our group. They are not all
Italian Americans. They are other nationalities, one of them sitting
right here today. And the reason they decided to start this organization
is basically to unite and connect women of
Italian American background, and to promote cultural
and educational events. And this is basically
what we do. And I would say about 12 years
ago, they started indicating that maybe we should
have some regions. And so we have a
region in Rhode Island and we have a region
in Connecticut. There’s the metro
regions in New York. And then Washington DC. We were the first one of
the regions to come about. And I have to say, it
has been really a great learning experience. I think even for me, whose
father continued to tell her that she came from the
greatest group of people in the world, the Italians. So it’s really interesting. And if you’re interested
in the organization, I have some brochures here which gives you information
on what we are. Every year, at our
national luncheon, we give out about four
or five scholarships. And they are to young women, either undergraduate
or graduate students. And we also try to promote
the Italian language. So in promoting the Italian
language, we always try to give a scholarship to
a person who is majoring in Italian; Italian literature,
the Italian language. Because let’s face it,
we want to promote this. And basically, we have
events, probably monthly. We try. Actually, next month on
November 7th we’re having a tour of the Jefferson building
by the tour group there. And we were there about
five or six years ago and there were members who
told me this was a great tour, “Can’t we do it again?” So we’re doing it again. And I hope some of you will be
able to join us, because it is at 11:00 in the morning. They don’t want to
do tours at night. And believe me, with
the traffic, I don’t think so either. But anyway, we are also
working right now to start on our epiphany celebration
which is where we honor three
Italian American women as three wise women,
versus three wise men, okay. And we’ve already
actually identified three for this coming year in January. And we generally have an event. It’s going to be on
January the 10th. And if you’re on our mailing
list, you will see it. And I will say that our
moderator this evening is one of the first ones we had
in DC, Connie Morella. She’s a great friend of NOIAW
and I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t know Connie
who’s from this area. Anyway, if anyone is
actually interested or wants to know more, I have
more brochures and I will give them to you. And I welcome you. I am so glad that some of
you managed to get here. And I look forward
to this evening, because I’m very
interested in this topic. So thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>Lucia Wolfe: I am going to
be really brief because I want to leave it to the speakers,
to the presenters tonight. So can you hear me? And I’m even shorter than Diana. I am Lucia Wolfe and I’m
the reference librarian at the European Division
who is responsible for the Italian collections. And those are especially
the general collections; that is the books
and periodicals that are published
from 1801 onwards. So just to give you
an idea of the scope of the Italian collections, I will say that at large they
are 800,000 and more items. Not only the general
collections, but also other formats. We have prints and photographs. We have newspapers. We have manuscripts. I think I’m forgetting —
oh, music scores, webpages, sound recordings, motion
pictures and I could go on. Linda will do a better
job later. So I wanted to say that
because it gives you an idea of the scope of the Italian
collections in general. But for two years now I’ve
been trying to focus in also on the Italian American
collections. It is very hard to separate
the two collections, because for a great part in
the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, many of the Italian American books
were actually printed in Italy and then printed
also in America. So I believe they’re classifying
and dividing the Italian and the Italian American
collections at that point between the end of the 19th
century and the beginning of the 20th century
could be problematic. I have been working with some — we also hire some
wonderful interns and some of them will be outside
at the display. Mostly, I work with Italian
America interns from all over the United States
of America. And what we have been
doing lately is focus on the Italian American
periodicals, one of the most consistent
and extensive parts of the collections, of the
Italian American collections. But we are also working on
collecting data about books and other items in
the collection. So I just wanted
to say that because in the next few years we will
also publish some research guides online. And for further information,
those will be very useful to orientate you about the
Italian American collections. Two words about the
display, I have tried to put together a display that represents the period
we are talking about, but I moved a little
bit onward to the 1970’s and past the 1970’s, so it doesn’t really
reflect our theme completely. But there are various sections. The earliest section is about
books by politicians, statesmen, vice consuls from Italy
who traveled to America and in general try to do surveys and also record their
impressions of the Italian American
communities throughout a continent in some
interesting travel journals that you will see out there. Those books are principally in
Italian because there were a lot of Italian politicians and
diplomats who were coming in from Italy and
doing these surveys. The next group is
education and literacy. I try to represent
that, number one, because I am biased
as a librarian. Many of the educators of the first Italian Americans
were actually librarians. And you will find out some of
the books and some of the prints and photographs identify this. So I am extremely
proud about that. And I have also highlighted
literature and art in Italian Americans’
interpretation. One case is the translation by John Chardy of
the Divine Comedy. I did not include
that in the display because I needed to select. But I did include a beautiful
translation of the divine comedy with artwork by Umberto
Romano, a very important and particular original
Italian American artist. I don’t want to go on for
too long, but I did want to highlight how the
display moves through time. And I included some photographs that also Lind has shown
in her splendid book. Some of the photos I displayed
are not in Linda’s book because I didn’t
want to overlap. So I hope you will take
some time and enjoy and look at the display. And I will be out
there to explain and answer your questions. Thank you very much and
now to the speakers. [ Applause ]>>Diana Femia: I would like
to introduce you formally to our moderator. Connie Morella, Constance
Morella, is a faculty ambassador in residence for Women
in Politics Institute at American University. She served as a member
of Congress in Maryland’s eighth
district from 1987-2003. And as the permanent
representative to the Organization of
Economic Cooperation and Development,
OECD, from 2003-2007. She was appointed to the
American Monument Commission by President Barack
Obama in 2010. She is also a caballera
official, order of merit, the Republic of Italy. And she is a NOIAW member
as well as our 2010, one of our wise women. And she was there with us just about every year at
our presentation. So I am giving you
Connie Morella who will be moderating tonight. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Constance Morella:
If I can make it up here without the steps. I can do it. Yeah. Okay, got it. Got it. Well, I want to
say to you, benvenito. Thank you for coming. I know it is not that easy
to get to a specific building in Washington DC
during this time of the evening, right
by the capital. But we are in the
Madison building. James Madison, the father
of the Constitution. And so it’s pretty
special that we are here. Well, I am Connie Morella
and I approve this message. [ Laughter ] Now you know, that
actually comes from Senator Joh McCain’s
campaign finance bill that he and Finegold had. I was on the House
side with Chris Shays where it was disclosure. So that’s why you have
heard that constantly. But I must say, it’s a great
honor for me to be here with this wonderful group to celebrate Italian
American heritage month and to take an historic
and important look back to listen, to learn, to lead. That’s what I plan to do with
the speakers that we have. I want to thank Diana Femia,
not only for her introduction and her comments,
but her leadership, the fact that she is the
godmother of this event tonight. She truly is. Its genesis, its development,
implementation and its reality. So thank you, Diana,
for all the work that you’ve done to
make this happen. I also want to thank
the Library of Congress. It’s very special to me, you
know, when you’re in Congress, you really do rely on all
the different resources. Whether it’s the RS or whatever, the European Institute,
whatever it is. We rely on it very heavily
and we’re so proud of it, and I’m pleased that it is now
headed by a woman from Maryland. And she’s doing a very good job from what my experts
here have told me. And she has great
professionals working there too, such as Grant Harris and
Lucia Wolfe, among others too. Well, my role as moderator
is really no heavy lifting. It is to introduce our
two outstanding speakers and to allow you an opportunity
for Q and A and for discussion after their presentations. It is an honor for me to present
them to this August group. The theme, Italian Americans
before and during World War II. And it’s very timely. And as a matter of
fact, I was thinking, having been on the Battle
Monuments Commission, this is the 100th anniversary
of the end of World War I. Remember, that was the war
to end all wars, right? And personal disclosure
on my part, my parents were both
born in Italy. So I am first-generation. My three older brothers
all served in the United States
Army during World War II. I was much younger,
but nevertheless, my parents would have
me write those V mail. Anybody remember V mail? My mother would dictate to
me, “I want you to write to your brothers and I want you to tell them this
and tell them that.” And so we operated that way
and we were very proud to have on our window that flag
with the three blue stars. Thank God they weren’t gold, but the three blue stars all
commemorating World War II. So I’m just so very honored
that we have this event tonight so that we can look back, we can
reflect and we can move ahead. Our first speaker is
Linda Barrett Osborne. She’s an award-winning
writer, editor, book reviewer for the Washington Post
and the New York Times, and a senior writer/editor
for the publishing office of the Library of Congress. She has received
numerous awards, such as the Penn
Syndicated Fiction Award. She’s authored a
collection of books for school students and adults. I love the titles of them,
because they say so much about her and how she
feels about our country. For instance, This
Land is Our Land. Come On In, America
is another one. Miles to Go for Freedom
is another one. Traveling the Freedom
Road is another. And to me, they show her
love and promise of America. We feel particularly close
tonight to the thesis of the book that she coauthored
called Explorers, Immigrants, Citizens: A Visual Look at the
Italian American Experience. As Shakespeare wrote, a beggar’s
book outworths a noble’s blood. And I think you have
exemplified that so well. And also, what’s in a name? Well, Linda’s maiden name was
Bocucci, changed in the 1940’s to avoid discrimination. So I present to you — I’m
going to present each presenter and then I will introduce
the other one afterwards. So I am going to present to
you Linda Boccucci Osborne. [ Applause ]>>Linda Osborne: Hi, welcome
everyone, and thank you so much for being here. I want to thank Grant and
Lucia for all the work they did to put this program
together, and of course Diana who is a force of nature when she decides she
wants a program to happen. I also have the privilege
of being here with Connie and Father Ezio to talk to
you about the experience of Italian American immigrants. Let me just explain
a couple of things. First of all, I no
longer review. I did about 250 reviews
for the Post and the Times, and I did work at the Library
of Congress for 15 years. I’m retired. What I’ve been doing since
then is not only this Italian American book which you
can see outside that I did with the Library of
Congress and which is out of print, unfortunately. Although I think there are
a couple of copies left in the book shop here. Since then, I’ve written
some young adult books. One called This Land is Our
Land, which is on the history of immigration in this country from before we were
a country to 2015. And it deals not only
with Italian Americans, but with every ethnic
group, Asians, Latinos and refugees as a group. And one on the United
States in World War I. And I am now working on a book
on the history and the meaning of freedom of the
press in this country. I like to do books
that deal with some of the more negative
aspects of American history. And that as I understand
it, is what I’m going to talk about tonight. I want you to know
that my books are full of the positive experiences
of American history. Because I am always amazed
and impressed by the way that any group — African
Americans for some of my books, Italian American immigrants — have overcome the obstacles that have been placed
before them to succeed. And so as I say,
it’s a combination, but without knowing exactly
what they had to overcome, I don’t think we get a complete
history of the United States. One more thing about
the Library of Congress, the Jefferson building was
put together pretty much by Italian artisans. In fact, a lot of
the public monuments in this country were done
by people who had the skills who were brought
over from Italy. That’s one of the positive
things in the book. Anyway, I will start now
with my talk with a photo. I hope I get this right. Did it go? Now I did this —
oh there we go. This is a photo of my great-grandfather,
Nicolas Faleri. Let me explain the Bocucci part. My parents actually
changed their names in 1941, ’42, before I was born. So I was never Linda Bocucci. I was always Linda Barrett. But all of my great-grandparents
came here from Italy and I will explain that. This is Nicolas Faleri. Yeah, and this is his wife
Josephine Faleri who was one of my great-grandmothers. And as I said, the
immigrated here from Bologna in the
19th century. Now all eight of my great-grandparents
were Italian immigrants. So the Bocucci’s, the
Moreno’s and the Charoni’s. The reason the name was
changed in the 1940’s was that my father felt that he was
being discriminated at work. He was working for General
Motors, an American company. Anyway, whether that
was true or not, it was very common unfortunately
for Italian Americans to change their name in that
period and to try better to assimilate into the
model of a pure American which also included I’m
afraid losing the language. But not the food or parts
of the culture, okay. Now, my great-grandparents
came in the 1880’s or 1890’s. And I show you these
because the story of Italian immigration is
personal to m. You see, they are not just
statistics or stereotypes. These are my family. This is my heritage and that
might be a good thing to keep in mind when we think about
immigration in general in this country and
in the world. A large influx of Italian
Americans to this country began in about 1870 when most of Italy
north and south became united. And although you might expect
conditions to have improved, they actually worsened
in southern Italy. The country was ruled from
Piedmont to the north. I won’t get into Italian
politics at the time. But they considered the
south somewhat barbarous. And they imposed higher taxes
on basics like mules and salt and unemployment was rampant. Extreme poverty, that’s
what drove tens of thousands to leave southern Italy to
find economic opportunity in the United States. Now leaving Italy was not easy. It meant leaving home,
family and culture behind. It took a great deal of courage. Most immigrants, and
as far as I know, all eight of my
great-grandparents, came by steamboat at steeridge. The average time at sea in
the 1890’s was 7-10 days. In the 1860’s it was
something like 51 days. So the passage had improved. Now, passage in steeridge, which
is the third and lowest class of travel, is almost universally
acknowledged to be miserable. In 1907, a Neopolitan
immigrant wrote, “How can a steward’s
passenger remember that he is a human being when
he first must pick the worms from his food and eat in
a stuffy, stinking bunk or in the hot and
fetid atmosphere of a compartment
where 150 men sleep?” I love using direct
quotes and stories, interviews, primary sources. There will be a bunch
of them in this talk. It’s not just me saying
that it was tough to cross. It’s the person who
actually did that. And I see my great-grandparents
too, telling you what it was like,
what the experience was like. However, nothing — not even
the miserable ocean-crossing — engendered more fear in
immigrants than the possibility that they would be turned away at Ellis Island when
they arrived. It’s also interesting to
me that if you came second or first class, you went
directly into the United States without going through
inspection stations. It was assumed that
you had enough money and that you would never
become a public charge, which was a big fear of Americans living
here at the time. Okay? The new arrivals
were most afraid of the medical examination. Here they are being
examined for traucoma which was an eye disease which
is the illness or disease that sent most of them back. I’m going to have a quote
from Forello Laguardia who actually worked
as an interpreter on Ellis Island when
he was young. “Many were found to be
suffering from traucoma, and their exclusion
was mandatory. It was harrowing to
see families separated. Sometimes, if it was a
young child who suffered from traucoma, one of
the parents had to return to the native country with the
rejected member of the family. When they learned this
fate, they were stunned. They could see all right, and
they had no homes to return to.” Now if you came after
1886 when the Statue of Liberty was dedicated —
that’s actually fairly late and Ellis Island didn’t
open until 1892 — you were greeted by the Lady. Once you made it into
the country, however, unfortunately most
Italian immigrants were met with prejudice and
discrimination. And this is an Italian
family arriving in the period around the turn of the century. Not only Italians, but Jews and Slavs among many
Americans in this period. Earlier, Germans and Irish
immigrants had alarmed many Americans. Later, Asians and Latinos would. Right? That’s a theme throughout
our country’s history, okay? It’s politicians, the
press and the public, wide socioeconomic
variety of people, who called for preserving
the United States for English descendants of
what they called Anglo-Saxons. Okay. These people who were
against immigration by people from many, many countries, called themselves
native Americans. This was before we used native
Americans the way we do now. This was in the 19th century. And those who opposed
immigration by any other ethnic group
were called nativists. And I sometimes use that as a
quick way of describing people in this country against — well,
Americans who were born here who believe that only people of Anglo-Saxon heritage
can become real Americans. These are lodged members. In 1902, they are dressed in what they believed
was Anglo-Saxon costume. And they were serious
about this. They also felt that
the traditions of English government
were the only traditions that were worth preserving
in this country. Okay, nativists thought
that the flood of eastern and southern European immigrants
which started in the 1870’s and continued into World War
I could never be assimilated into American society
and culture. Okay? These newcomers
looked different, dressed and spoke differently,
lived in crime- and disease-ridden,
filthy neighborhoods. And never mind that most
Americans didn’t want them in their own neighborhoods. And one of many examples used to describe Italian Americans
appeared in the Review of Reviews in 1891,
which called them, “The refuse of the murder
reeds of southern Europe.” These are my great-grandparents, and this is the time
they were coming. Many Italian immigrants
stayed in New York. A classic scene of tenements in
Little Italy in New York City. And almost universally, they lived in immigrant
neighborhoods. And this was partly because
they were more comfortable and secure living with
others from their hometowns. And of course partly because
most Americans did not welcome them in their neighborhoods. Living inside Little Italy’s
had serious disadvantages. It isolated Italian
immigrants from other Americans. They could avoid
learning to speak English or adopt American customs. And it limited their
opportunities, okay? But here’s a happy one. I snuck in a happy one. This is a festival
in Little Italy. In fact, I could give
a whole other talk on how wonderful the Italian
American culture developed, not only in New York, but
cities across the United States and even in small towns. Just to give you an
idea of the crowding — well, I’m about to give
a quote about the men who lived in Little Italy. This is interesting. I don’t know if you can see it. This was also during a festival,
guys staying on the streets. The tenements were
above the shops. There’s a giant candle
on the left side of the photograph,
and the right. And they were carried
in the festivals. So I thought it was
a need picture. In any case, whether they
were learning English or not, whether they were being
assimilated or not, the immigrants when they
first arrived worked the poorest-paying jobs
and were crowded into the poorest
slum neighborhoods. And malnutrition affected
children in adults. In 1908, one Italian write
pictured, “A little Colavia across the ocean where
immigrants returned to their homes, and after
a very frugal meal go to their poor beds huddled against each other
for little rest. Everyone can imagine
how these tired and undernourished beings
might easily develop the germs of diseases, especially
tuberculosis.” Jacob Reese who was a journalist
and social reformer noted, “In a block of tenements
which totaled 132 rooms, 1,342 Italian immigrants lived. Mostly men, Sicilian
laborers, sleeping more than 10 people per room
for an entire block.” Okay. Okay, in New
York’s tenements in tiny, overcrowded apartments, women
and children did piece work. There’s an apartment
in New York. There the kids are not working. In my next picture,
they will be. And they often sewed
garments or notion sequins, feathers, all kinds of things. All the children and the
women, to support families. Okay, another one
with everybody sitting around the table working. The National Child Labor
Committee described one woman of the hundreds and
thousands who did this, living in “a poverty-stricken
home and making a pittance
for finishing pants.” Now child labor was common in
the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and even after World War I, not
only among Italian immigrants. For poverty-stricken
families, this was a necessity. This picture shows a group —
I have many pictures outside of New York in the book,
but here is one of them in Mississippi in 1911. And the youngest worker
standing on the box, you can see, is five years old. Okay. Nativists and even
many other Americans who were less politically vocal
held four widespread stereotypes about Italian Americans. They were Catholic,
which isn’t a stereotype; it was perceived as a problem. Sorry. Ignorant, criminals and
anarchists or labor agitators. Nativists were extremely
anti-Catholic and they believed Americans
should be Protestant. Here’s an example of an
altar in an Italian church. This is not Protestant. The idea of fests and celebrating saints
was a little too exuberant for many traditional Americans. In any case, nativists also
believed there was a papal plot to take over the United States. And I can’t show you all
the illustrations I have of our cartoons showing the
pope about to devour Manhattan. But one of the things
they worried about was that Catholic influence would
menace American traditions such as public education
because many Catholics went to Catholic schools. However, most Italian kids
actually went to public schools. I wish I could spend more
time on it, but you know, even as late as 1960, John Kennedy was
considered possibly nonviable as a president because
he was Catholic. So this was a persistent
stereotype that covers more than Italians. Now the Italian organ-grinder, which is entertainment
during the early decades of mass immigration, became
a stereotype reflecting an unsophisticated, even
base foreign culture. And the Italian accent when
speaking English was mocked. One example, in the
silent movie, The Italian, which was produced by
an American company that had absolutely no
involvement with Italians or Italian Americans,
the dialogue appeared to be a mashed-up English,
supposedly spoken by Italians. Not sure I can even
say this right. “I must geta dee milk
or my babe is die.” And that’s the image that
many people had of us. Probably the most damaging
and persistent stereotype was of southern Italians as violent. “The disposition to
assassinate in revenge for a fancied wrong is a
marked trait of the character of this impulsive
and inexorable race.” That’s the Baltimore
News in the 1890’s. We’re not just talking
about fringe elements. We’re talking about mainstream
press saying these things about us. Okay. The strength
and pervasiveness of criminal organizations
like the Black Hand and the Mafia however,
were vastly exaggerated, especially by the news media. Sensational stories
fed on public prejudice at the same time
they reinforced it. They were more interesting I
think to sell copies of papers than Vermini’s Capital. You know, a painting
in the capital. These stereotypes were
exposed officially. In this cartoon,
rats — see them — representing different
countries leaves the shores of the old world. The European leaders on the shore are
delighted to see them go. The one in the foreground,
the very front in the middle, holds the infamous letter of the
Black Hand between his teeth. Soon, the Black Hand became
synonymous with crime, particularly Italian crime and Italians were actually
treated as criminals. In March 1891, 11 Italians
in New Orleans accused of murdering the local
police chief were lynched after a jury had
acquitted them of a crime. Okay. The event led
to the suspension of diplomatic relations between
Italy and the United States, the only time in history before
World War II that that happened. Lynching Italians was all too
frequent in the American south in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries. They hold the unenviable
record for the most lynchings of any ethnic group
after African Americans. I can give you a lot
of other examples, but not now with my time limit. Early Italian immigrants also
included political exiles who had fought for Italian unity and against monarchist
governments, and they were anarchists
and workers who became a strong
voice in union organizing and the American labor movement. Both were viewed as
disruptive and dangerous. This picture shows Joseph
Caruso, Joseph Ature, and Arturao Juvenicci who
were trade unionists arrested on false charges for murdering
actually an Italian worker protestor, Anilo Proso,
during the Lawrence, Massachusetts textile
strike of 1912. Ature was one of the
promotors of the strike. According to a Chicago
newspaper, it was “chiefly the
result of his efforts that 275,000 New England
textile mill workers are getting better wages.” The mill owners had put Joe in
jail to get him out of the way. And the three were kept in
jail for several months even after the strike ended. And again, when they
finally went to trial, they were acquitted. So they weren’t doing the things
they were being accused of, partly for political reasons. In the early 20th century, agitation to restrict
immigration grew, and some groups were thought
to be unassimilatable. By the time of World War I,
which the US entered in 1917, many Americans had come to
believe that if a person thought of themselves as a German
American or Irish American or obviously Italian
American instead of totally as an American, he or she
would not be fully loyal to the United States. Theodore Roosevelt said
that all true Americans, no matter where they were born,
should believe in “the simple and loyal motto,
America for Americans.” And the idea of 100% Americanism
left little room for immigrants who could not adapt
quickly to American ways. I’m hoping you’ll
see the parallel in the things I’m quoting without making a
big point about it. That’s what amazed me when I first started
doing this research. The same issues and
the same problems and the same language
have been used for 250 — even before we became
the United States. Benjamin Franklin complained
that the German immigrants — this is 1752 — were
ruining Pennsylvania because they wouldn’t
learn the English language and they had their own schools. Anyway, there were many attempts
to restrict or halt immigration from undesirable countries. Unfortunately, Italy was one of
them in the early 20th century. And the first significant
drive focused on passing a law that could keep immigrants
who could not read or write from entering the country. There, okay. Massachusetts Senator
Henry Cavetlage called for a literacy test
as early as 1896. His quote, “The literacy test
will bear most heavily upon the Italians, Russians, Poles,
Hungarians, Greeks and Asiatics and very lightly or not at all
upon English-speaking immigrants or German, Scandinavian
and French. In other words, the
races most affected by the literacy test are
those whose immigration to this country has begun
within the last 20 years and swelled rapidly to
enormous proportions, races who are most alien to
the great body of the people of the United States.” Okay. I want to say
two things about this. One is that the literacy
test did not have to be passed in English. It could be passed
in your own language. Two is that women did not
have to pass the literacy test if they were accompanied
by a man. And in fact, if they
weren’t accompanied by a man, they were often sent back
for a lot of reasons. And the third thing is
that it didn’t really work, because most immigrants who
were coming were literate, even though some were from
southern and eastern Europe. Here is a part two. The literacy test, it’s actually
against the literacy test. The American east — and this
is what the caption reads. “The American east wall
as Congressman Burnett,” one of the supporters,
“would build it.” Interesting that it’s a
wall to keep — you know. And this is the 1890’s. To keep people out. The pens are weapons
pointing out. And the roof of the
wall are books. It is true that immigrants had
entered into the United States in more or less unrestricted
numbers. Between 1905 and
1914, for example, almost 9.9 million
European immigrants had come to the United States, most from
southern and eastern Europe. So Congress sought to establish
a quota system limiting immigration by country. In 1921, it passed the
Emergency Immigration Act, setting the total
number of immigrants from all countries
at 355,000 a year. And basing each country’s
allotment on a complicated formula which
reflected how many immigrants of that country had
lived here in 1910. Okay. Nativists still
thought the quotas for eastern and southern Europeans
were too high. They feared that jobs would
be taken away from Americans, that communists, labor
agitators, other radicals and criminals would
enter the United States and too many immigrants
could not be assimilated and would change the
character of the country. This is a quote, “The old
Americans are getting a little panicky and no wonder. America, Americans and Americanism are being
crowded out of America.” And this was from a reader to
the New Republican in 1924. Now Albert Johnson,
a congressman from Washington State, led
the fight for tougher quotas. He said — the quote above
is part of what he said. He said, “Today, instead of a
well-knit homogenous citizenry, we have a body politic
made up of all and every diverse element. Our capacity to maintain our
cherished institutions stands diluted by a stream
of alien blood. It is no wonder,”
remember, this is talking about Italian Americans,
“therefore that the myth of the melting pot
has been discredited. The day of [inaudible]
welcome to all peoples, the day of indiscriminate
acceptance of all races has
definitely ended.” When Congress passed the
Johnson-Reed Act in 1924, it used the 1890 census for
the basis of quota elevations because in 1890 there
had been more northern and western European
immigrants and fewer southern and eastern European immigrants
living in the United States. Congress and much of the
country wanted the United States to return to its English roots. And that meant having immigrants
from Britain or western and northern Europeans
be recorded in the census as the largest group
in the population. Okay, the total number
of immigrants from every country
was drastically cut to 150,000 per year
with this quota act. The yearly quota for the United
Kingdom, which is England, Wales, Scotland and
Northern Ireland, was 65,721. After he 1920’s,
the yearly quota for Italians was 5,802 a year. Now Father Ezio is going to
talk to you about the internment of Italians during World War II. But let me skip past that
just to say two things. One is that Italian
Americans served in great numbers
in World War II. They had become Americans,
very patriotic Americans. And this picture shows women at
a flat-raising ceremony in 1942. As for the quota
system, in 1952, the McCarron-Walter Act
changed the way quota numbers were figured. And I know the details
can be boring, but the important thing was
it kept the country quotas. And McCarron said, “We have in the United States today
hardcore, indigestible blocks which have not become integrated
into the American way of life but which on the contrary
are its deadly enemies. Today, as never before, untold
millions are storming our gates for admission and those gates
are cracking under the strain.” It wasn’t actually until 1965 that Congress passed
the Hart-Seller Act, and that eliminated
all national quotas and it emphasized having
immigrants come here based on family connections
to those already here and having special skills. Okay. Finally, this
last picture is of Lilian Claire,
my first grandchild. And this is an opportunity
to show her to a large number of people. [ Laughter ] She was born this
year on August 9th. Now I have a reason though. I started with photos of
my great-grandparents. Here is their descendant. Lily is the sixth generation of my family story
in the United States. You see, despite the language
that demeaned Italian Americans and the discriminatory
obstacles that were put in their way, we did assimilate. We are Americans. I hope you will keep in mind the
experiences of Italian Americans when thinking about
immigration today. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Grant Harris: Come
on up if you want. So I’ve been told a
rather technical way of possibly helping with this, is to shake this
podium a little bit. So let’s see if it — [ Applause ]>>Constance Morella:
The magic touch. Thank you very much, Linda. I learned a lot from that too,
from the photographs, visually and verbally, hearing about
and seeing your grandchild too. Isn’t it scary when you think about how history is repeating
itself, when she talked about stereotyping immigration,
the wall, America for Americans? So we have a task ahead of us. And so I now have
the great pleasure of introducing our
second guest speaker. And he is somebody that we
have been looking forward to hearing from,
Padre Ezio Marchetto. He has been, as you know — he’s been the pastor
of Holy Rosary Church for the last five years. And not only that, he’s
taken on the arduous task of a tremendous production that is taking place
around Casa Italiana. As a matter of fact,
I think in addition to his spiritual
responsibilities, he chairs the Board of Casa
Italiana Sociocultural Center, which is now involved in large-scale redevelopment
in this area. Incidentally, it is going to
also include the establishment of an Italian American museum. From what I understand
from Father Ezio, it’s going to be basically
Italian Americanism in the greater Washington area. So it will have a specificity which will give it even more
pleasure for the viewers. Padre Ezio is multilingual. He speaks Italian, Portuguese,
English and Canadian English. Probably speaks other
languages too. You know, I’ve always
thought when they say that you are multilingual, like
he is, you speak many languages. And then when you’re bilingual,
you speak two languages. And when you speak one
language, you’re American. [ Laughter ] But he’s multilingual. He has of course as you know — he studied in Italy,
Portugal and Canada. And he’s a man who really
understand the media and how to get a message across. He’s a good communicator,
and that’s very important. His experiences in
speaking, writing, participating have
certainly enhanced that. Well, I think particularly
pertinent today is his expertise on global immigration. Global immigration. He served as an official
observer at the United Nations on the issues of international
migration, something certainly that we care about now. So it’s my honor and pleasure to
present Father Ezio Marchetto. [ Applause ]>>Father Ezio Marchetto:
Good evening, everyone. Thank you for the organizers
and all of you for being here. Let me start by saying what
my presentation is not. It’s not an exhaustive
presentation on the internment of Italian Americans,
for two reasons. First, very little
material is available. For those who are
interested, I have a page and that’s all the
resources that we have about the internment
of Italian Americans. The user entry of
Wikipedia, about three books, a few articles, one video
and one fiction book. That’s all. So there is another
element which is many of the information are a little
confusing for this reason. As you will see later on on
the numbers, one camp says that Italian American
internees were 250. Another one says
they were over 1,000. The reason is these
are a chapter of Italian American history
which seems to be forgotten. How many of you know that 55,000
Italian POW’s were brought to the United States
during World War II? Thank you. 55,000. That seems to be
one of those just forgotten, “Let’s not talk about
it” situations. But let’s start with
our topic tonight. The title For Memory
[inaudible] is taken from the diary of
Prospero Chaconi. That’s the first
page of his book. It recalls all the different
moments of his truly statements of the cross, the painful
journey through internment. Let’s just start with
some basic facts. Fact one, between 1876 and 1930, 5 million Italians moved
to the United States. 5 millions. Fact two, in 1942,
beginning with the war, there were 695,000 Italian
citizens present n the United States. Three, during World War II,
more than half a million — some numbers go up
to 1.5 million, but there’s not a
complete list — but over half a million Italian
Americans were in the Army. Now remember, the whole
army was about 12 million. So about half a million and over
was quite a remarkable number. Number four, during the war, no person of Italian descent
was ever charged with, much less convicted
of, espionage, sabotage or any other hostile action. These are facts. Finally, fact one, the
executive order 9066 called for compulsory relocation
of more than 10,000 Italian Americans. And at the same time,
restricted movement of more than 600,000 Italian
Americans nationwide. So let’s take a look now at what
happened, how they went there. In the beginning, there was a
lot of admiration for Mussolini. Here we have two
quotes from Roosevelt. “I am interested
and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished by
his evidenced, honest purpose in restoring Italy and seeking to prevent general
European trouble.” He made the covers
of Newsweek and Time. A few weeks later, “I don’t
mind telling you in confidence, I am keeping in fairly
close touch with the admirable
Italian gentleman.” [ Laughter ] It was a time when Italian
Americans start to succeed, to be recognized,
to reach the level when a community
becomes noticeable. And as always, politics is a
great indicator of the position in society of a specific
ethnic group. It was a time when
Congressman Feralo Laguardia, Victor Mark Antonio, Mayor
Frank Orizio, Joseph Felioto, [inaudible] Marciano,
Jody Margo — this was the time
when they start to be in the news in a positive way. At the same time, trouble
was brewing in Europe. Roma-Berlin Axis became a
military alliance in 1939. Their pact was sealed and
they were the three powers, Germany, Italy, Japan. War. A date which will live
in infamy, December 7th, 1941. And that’s when everything
fell apart. What is interesting is that
on the night of December 7th, right after Pearl Harbor, and before US declared
officially war to Italy, the FBI arrested a
handful of Italians. You see the map, and
you see the date. The Sanborn Nine. They had a list of
suspected dangerous aliens. December 11th, the
official declaration of war, Germany declared war
on the United States and immediately the US president
Roosevelt announced America was at war with Japan
and the alliance. So Italian dictator Benito
Mussolini made this declaration from [inaudible] Rome, the powers of the pact
were determined to win. And of course we have
the message of Congress, requesting a recognition
of state of war with Germany and Italy. There had never been a greater
challenge to life, liberty, civilization than that
created by the Axis Powers, Germany, Italy and Japan. It was determined therefore
to have the forces of justice and righteousness
prevail over the forces of savagery and barbarism. So all of a sudden, all the
immigrants from Germany, Italy and Japan found themselves
as at war with their homeland. Again, as I mentioned before, the enemy aliens were
taken into custody. Less than two weeks later,
General DeWitt commanded that all aliens under 14 years of age be removed
to the interior. This had a great effect
especially in California. They were expecting Japan to attack the United
States from the west coast. So they insisted to move
inland all the enemy aliens. Then in 1942 the status of enemy
alien was extended to all aliens of Italian descent,
which is over 600,000. These individuals were
required to register and reregister to
the post office. There are four dates that
are the turning points. Of course, December
7th, 1941, Pearl Harbor. January 25th, 1942, immediately after Pearl Harbor the
Rabas Commission was trying to figure out what went wrong. And some of the suggestions that came back were
there were fifth columns within the United States. And January 29th, 1942, we have
the first enemy alien relocation that was issued. Then the executive order 9066. So all people were excluded
from specific areas. This is the notice
to alien enemies. About 4 million aliens,
which means citizens who kept their Italian,
Japanese or German citizenship. So after Pearl Harbor — I’m sorry, those were the
immigrants at the time. About 1.1 million of these
immigrants were still citizens of Germany, Italy and Japan and automatically
became enemy aliens. And that’s the notice that
went around the country, both in English, Japanese,
Italian and German, telling them they must register
and move out of specific areas. So here we have about 122,000
men and women and children of Japanese ancestry were
evicted from the west coast of the United States and held
in American concentration camps, the internment camps
if you want. Americans with Italian and German ancestry were also
targeted by these restrictions, including internment of 11,000
people of German ancestry, and about 3,000 people
with Italian ancestry. Along with some Jewish refugees, because they were
coming from Germany. The major internment sites for
Italian Americans were Port of George, Maryland; [inaudible]
in Oklahoma for some years, in Texas and Tennessee. The largest number were
at Fort Visola in Montana. And here’s where the
numbers get confused. Because a large number of the Italian POW’s
were also at that camp. So the numbers go from, you
will see later one of the signs that there were over 1,000
Italian Americans interned, but that’s not really true. It was the mixing of Italian
POW’s and Italian Americans. So — [ Speaking Italian ] You have the three languages,
Japanese, Italian and German. This is a copy of
one of those cards. What was also very sad is this: besides to carry all the time
your identification card, there were travel restrictions. You cannot travel
more than five miles. They were required to hand
over all the contraband, which means cameras, weapons,
flashlights that can be used to signal across the ocean. [ Laughter ] And short-wave radios. This was a very sad time. There was an instance
on the west coast, a number of people
committed suicide. One man went to the barn and asked his friend
to please shoot him. Because his friend
refused, he walked out and threw himself under a train. Because he had his family
there and grew up there, he felt he was American. He felt betrayed. All the Italian schools
were closed, Italian American
meetings became suspected. The American organizations and
social clubs were [inaudible], and this is one of the posters. [ Speaking Italian ] I don’t read Japanese or German,
but that’s what the message was. Don’t speak the enemy language. Ultimately, about 600,000
Americans were arrested. 250,000 were interned. Once you are arrested, you
have the right to go in front of a panel that will judge
if you were considered to be a danger or not. You still have to carry
your identification, travel restrictions. Also, you have to remember this:
enemy alien prohibited areas. The fact that you could not go into certain areas
means you lost your job. Your business was either you
have to close it or walk away. You were enemy aliens. Thousands of people
lost everything. That was very sad. Rosina Trovato was
classified enemy alien. She was to move out
of a specific area, and she received a notice
to evacuate, and she learned that her son has gone down
with the US [inaudible]. Jody Mago, his father
could not go down to visit his
son’s restaurant because it was outside the
area he was allowed to travel. [Inaudible] that 52,000 Italian
aliens cannot leave their homes between 8:00 PM and 5:00 AM. So all those who
work in bakeries, they just lost their job. There were about 1,400
Italian American fishermen in San Francisco and
again, they cannot set foot on their waterfront after
February 24th, 1942. And this was the crazy part: the
fishing industry was considered to be a national priority. Seafood was providing
food for the nation. And here we have 90% of San Francisco being either
sequestered by the Coast Guard or left idle because people
cannot access the waterfront. Even one of the newspapers
said, “Fishermen with 23 sons in the Army and Navy are bound
to wharf while boat lies idle, and the seafood is needed.” I mean, it was so evident. Yet months would pass before
the restrictions were rescinded. This is just one example
of how confusion happens. From 1841-44, [inaudible] as
a detention center for more than 1,000 Italians,
more than 1,000 Japanese and 22 German nationalists. The Italians were the fair
workers and civilian seamen, who were bounded at the outbreak
of the war against the Japanese. So about 250 Italian Americans
were put in internment camps, but the biggest was the
curfew and the restrictions. Then they started to realize
the Italians were not really so great enemies. And the reason was so many
families had their sons in the Army. Over a million, or as some
numbers put it, over a million. So try to backtrack. And in July 1942,
President Roosevelt started to consider some
form of restitution, the lifting of restrictions. And they even said, “Well, we’re going to pay you $20
unemployment for each week that you were out of your job.” Of the more than 2,500
Italian American detainees, about 300 took the offer. For them it was a
slap in the face. So on Columbus Day,
October 12th, 1942, the attorney general Francis
Biddell, here with Laguardia in New York, signed
the document. The Italian nationals in the
US will no longer be classified as enemies. It was just a move to help
support the war effort. Then we have this, Mr.
Speaker arrives today to introduce a bill that will
cause the president on behalf of the United States government
to formally acknowledge that the civil liberties of Italian Americans were
violated during World War II. Congressman Rick Lasio and Eliot
Angle together introduce this. So it finally became a
public law number 106-451. It passed the Congress, 1997. And these are what the
commission that was formed with that law tried to achieve. One, to formally acknowledge
the violation of civil liberties of Italian Americans
in World War II. Two, to encourage a federal
agency to support projects that will heighten
public awareness of this forgotten episode. Three, to provide
direct national support for a documentary film. Four, formation of
advisory committee to assist the collection of relevant information
regarding the matter as it relates to
public policy matters. Finally, to publish a
report regarding the role of the government
of the United States on this unfortunate occurrence. It was passed in the
year 2000, October 24th with the Senate’s amendments. So on November 7th, 2000, the US Congress passed
the Wartime Violation of Italian American
Civil Liberties Act, and those are the
groups that came into this US Congress statement. Why isn’t this such
an easy topic in Italian American history? I’m not a psychologist,
but I believe the reason is for Italian Americans, there
was some kind of mixed feeling. In one sense they felt
betrayed, especially those who were detained, or those
who had their boats confiscated or they lost their jobs, families that were separated
while their sons were at war. At the same time, they
were still living here. They wanted to be
Italian Americans. They wanted to be Americans. So for many of the
older people, they said, “Let’s not talk about it. The past is gone. Italy was at war. They are not saying
it was our fault.” But they have mixed feelings. Guilty in one sense
because Italy declared war on the United States,
betrayal in the other because they felt not recognized
for who they truly were. Not one single person was
ever convicted or accused of any anti-American action. So it was one of those
things that is gone, is past; let’s not talk about it. But personally, I
believe it’s part of our Italian American history. So I hope tonight not to
give you all the answers, but just to awaken
your curiosity. And these copies
of the bibliography or the resources are available. It will be a great topic
for any dissertation that I hope one day someone
will take the time to do. Thank you very much.>>Constance Morella: Thank you. [ Applause ] I think it’s a very
good point, Father Ezio, that somebody could
take this topic on and do all kinds
of things with it. A dissertation, a lengthy
essay; there’s so much that can be done with it. I do want to point
out that in 2010, the California legislature
passed a resolution apologizing for the United States’
mistreatment of Italian residents in
the state during the war. Noting restrictions
and indignities as well as loss of jobs and housing. I guess California because
they were the most affected by these indignities
and these crimes. And then a member
of Congress now — in fact, I served with her —
Zoe Loftgren from California, she has presented legislation. She couldn’t be here tonight because of course,
they’re campaigning. Every two years is ridiculous. But the Senate wouldn’t change
it to make it four years, of course, because
they have six years and might have competition. But Zoe Loftgren in
the 115th Congress which we still have going on
now, introduced two pieces of pertinent legislation, and
they are HR-1706 and 1707. Pretty reminiscent of
what we had discussed. 1706 would authorize the
secretary of education to provide grants for education
programs on the history of the treatment of Italian
Americans during World War II. HR-1707 would ask for an
apology for the treatment of Italian Americans
during World War II. I have copies. Her office sent copies
of those two bills if anybody would
like to look at them. And so now, ladies and
gentlemen, I’d like to open it up to questions you may have. I think I’d like to
maybe just start off and ask our two presenters if
they would like to ask questions of each other, or make
any final comments. Linda, do you want
to mention anything, or wait for the questions?>>Linda Osborne: Only that Italian internment
during World War II is in our book, so we
didn’t miss it. There’s a whole page on it. And it was not something
that I had any idea about until I had
researched this book.>>Constance Morella:
Which shows the need for a forum like this.>>Linda Osborne: Yes. And I thought your
presentation was wonderful.>>Constance Morella: Any
comments you’d like to make?>>Father Ezio Marchetto: Yeah,
I’ve been in North America for about 30 years,
even though most of my time was spent in Canada. But it also amazes me how
little history is known. A while ago I was talking to some people about
Sacrament City.>>Constance Morella: I
was thinking of them, yeah.>>Father Ezio Marchetto: I
mean, such an integral part of so many topics from
unionizing to the freedom, but very few people new
about Sacrament City. So we have to know more about
how history, all aspects, the good ones and the
negative ones, because that’s in this balance that we
keep growing, learning and avoiding hopefully
similar mistakes.>>Constance Morella: Very true. Okay, folks. You came, you listened,
let’s hear from you. And you know what
we’re going to do. Because this is being taped,
I’m going to ask one of us to repeat your question.>>My question is this. My parents were born here,
but their parents weren’t, and obviously my
great-grandparents weren’t. But I remember my father
relating to us as we got older that his grandmother
lived in this country. And she had a photograph
of Mussolini in the home, and it was a real
point of contention between my father
and his grandmother. And my question is,
how common was that? How common was it
for the Italians who were here from
the old country?>>Father Ezio Marchetto: So the
question is, how often was it that in some families you
still even today find a picture of Mussolini with
a little candle in front or a little light? Why is that? The reason is this: when
Mussolini took over, took power, he felt that Italians should
show themselves as coming from a great country
and a great race. Mussolini did a number of
very good things for Italy. For example, almost all nations
where [inaudible] was present, they would establish
Casa Italiana. It would be the cultural center
for the Italian community. It was so powerful
that in Montreal, in one of the churches,
the Madonna [inaudible], there is in the ceiling a
fresco of Mussolini on a horse with all the [inaudible]. It’s still there. So in a couple of the churches. So people felt that
Mussolini was helping them, supporting them, providing
them and brought back Italy. It was a period where the
mafia controlled Italy across the ocean,
came with [inaudible]. So there were many
things that were to represent the Italians abroad
as coming from a great country. So people admired
Mussolini for that. And that’s why especially older
generations will still keep that picture of Mussolini,
because of that period.>>Linda Osborne:
Not only Italians or Italian Americans thought
Mussolini was good for Italy. You pointed out Roosevelt
had flattering things to say. If you look at periodicals
and newspapers from the 1920’s and the early 1930’s, full
of praise for bringing order, for bringing prestige and pride. One of the big turning
points in the world was when Italy invaded Ethiopia
and used poison gas. Then people began to question. But for at least 15 years, he
was considered a positive force for most of this country. A symbol, yeah.>>Constance Morella:
One, two, yes. You may want to also
mention your name.>>Yes, my name is
Mary Ann Guantano.>>Constance Morella: Excellent.>>My father was one of
those 55,000 prisoners of war who spent time in this
country during World War II. And my mother and
grandmother came through Ellis Island in 1920. So I’m a first-generation
American Italian, and probably a dual
citizen of Italy as well. My question though
regards the social clubs that you spoke about, Father. My sense was that
some of them came about because Italian
Americans wanted to prove their loyalty
to the United States. Or maybe that’s the way
they evolved after the war. Can you speak about that at all?>>Constance Morella: Repeat
the question as best you can.>>Father Ezio Marchetto:
Let’s see, the social clubs that were formed before
and after the war. How do they react to
that transition period? When the war started, they
were looked with suspicion because they were financed
by the Fascist government. They sent money and
material for them. There is a book, Fascist
Activities in the United States. I think it was Lagumina
the author. You can find it. Just put the title Fascist
Activities in the United States, in Italian communities. So as the war started,
all those were dissolved. After the war, there
were especially groups of Italian Americans, veterans. Even here in this city
there was a very active one for a number of years. So that’s how the
Italian American clubs and society started again,
with the veterans first. Then immediately after
the war, groups had formed to help Italy, rebuild Italy. So they were sending everything
from clothing to medicine to whatever was needed. So that’s how everything
started again. So that’s how I see it
as one of the motivations for starting again the
Italian American clubs.>>Constance Morella:
Okay, very good. Excellent. All right, any other comments
or questions that you may have? Yes?>>Will Amatruda. With regard to the sympathy
that some Italian Americans had for Mussolini before World
War II, during the time when that legislation went
through and during their time in Congress, there
was an exhibit in — I don’t remember whether it
was in the capital or in one of the House and
Senate office buildings. But there was an exhibit called
[Italian name], A Secret Story. And as I was going through it, I noticed that it included a
publication of the Grand Lodge of California of the
order Sons of Italy. And it was in Italian
which I can read. And it was from 1938. And it had a reference to
Mussolini which described him as — and I translate — second
only to the man of Nazareth. [ Laughter ] Now as a commentary about
the idiocy of the scare about Italian American
disloyalty after Pearl Harbor, the opera singer, later the star
of South Pacific, Ezio Pinza was in the process of applying
for American citizenship. And he was within four months of the five-year
residency to get it. Well, he was interned, and the
rationale was that when he sang at the Metropolitan Opera,
he could modulate his voice to send signals to submarines. [ Laughter ] Well, since a lot of important and wealthy people were
opera fans, they went to bat for him and he was released. So it helps to have
influential friends.>>Father Ezio Marchetto: I think your voice is loud
enough that they heard. Thank you for mentioning
that book, A Secret Story. Now it used to be an exhibit. It was published as a book,
several different books. I have here the list of
the three books published about the internment, and
you’re free to take copies. The video is quite good as well
because it gives all the images. So A Secret Story started as
an exhibit that we brought to back some interest in
what was done in Congress. As one of the consequences
of that exhibit, it now has been published in a
book titled La Story Secreta. The book is branded,
a similar book. So those are the books that I
would suggest for whoever wants to get a little more
information about this period of Italian American history.>>Linda Osborne: I should point out that there was an
anti-Mussolini press that dated back before
Mussolini. There was a very active,
vibrant left-wing communist, socialist, Italian-based press. It wasn’t just against
Mussolini. It was against our
participation in World War I. It was against our
participation in World War II. And again, I told
you the stereotype of the anarchist
was very strong. And so was the presence
of these publications. During World War
II, both fascist and leftist publications were
censored in various ways. For example, they couldn’t
be sent through the mail. But it wasn’t uniformly that. And we have several pages
in the book on the vigor of the leftist Italian
American press.>>Constance Morella: That
was a fascinating story about Ezio Pinza and how people
appreciating his music got him out of the possibility
of internment.>>One more question, please. In the mid-1800’s, a lot of Irish families came
to the United States. And many of the women tried
to get jobs and they couldn’t, and they ended up
being prostitutes. Did that happen with the
Italian immigration that came?>>Linda Osborne:
Interesting question. Were Italian American women
who immigrated here forced to become prostitutes? Or was that widespread? Actually, as opposed to the
Irish, Italian American men came in much larger numbers
than the women did. And if they did come,
they were often wives and were parts of families. So I don’t know of any
widespread Italian prostitution, simply because the numbers
were so overwhelmingly in favor of men coming here. Italians also went
back and forth more than other immigrant groups,
called birds of passage. They came here and went back
and forth maybe within the year, but they also came
for several years and then went back to Italy. They didn’t always bring
over their families. So I don’t think we need to
worry about that as a problem. But it reflects the
particular nature of Italian immigration
in the period.>>Father Ezio Marchetto: If
you want to get more information about that period when Irish
and then the Italians came in, read the Five Points, the book about the Five Points
in New York. And it tells you from
when it was mainly Irish to slowly Italian
to majority Italian. It will explain the
work of the children, work of women, work of men. That’s a very good book.>>Constance Morella:
Very interesting.>>Linda, I’m the Italian
wannabe that Diana spoke about. [ Laughter ] But my background is German
Jewish, and my dad wrote a book on Jewish immigration
into Baltimore. And my father is not a scholar,
but he did a lot of research. And there was not a
point that you made that was not almost identical. And so you know, if you talk
about immigration, you can look at it now, same thing
that’s going on. But immigration is
the large issue, not actually the nationality. And it’s a longstanding
history into the United States of immigrants and the path to not only citizenship,
but to assimilation.>>Linda Osborne: Right. You mentioned that your
family has a Jewish background and they experiences some of
the same things I talked about. And that’s absolutely true. I in fact often in the
talk, I hope, said eastern and southern Europeans. For various political
reasons back home and economic reasons
back home, after 1870, a lot of southern Italians came. A lot of Jewish people came, a lot of eastern European Slavic
people came who were Christians. They were all bunched
together as undesirable for the same reasons
Italian Americas were: they didn’t speak English. They were poor when they came
here, the dressed differently, they tend to live in their
own neighborhoods and so on. But yes, the whole
story involves — and I had isolated for this
group to be Italian Americans. But yes, it was. I grew up on Long Island where
lots of Italian Americans, lots of Jewish Americans, and our experiences
seem almost identical.>>Constance Morella: It’s kind
of hierarchical too, isn’t it? I mean, whoever’s on top doesn’t
want the next one to rise. And you’re always going
to have a lower spot. We could look now
in our country, those who are most
discriminated against. We had a question here, yes?>>Hi. Angela Fricci. So I’m thinking about the wave
of immigration on the later end, the late 1950’s, early 1960’s. Firstly, on my mother’s side, my great-grandparents
came from Ellis Island. My father came in
the late 1950’s. So I guess the question is,
thinking about that later wave of immigration, and if you
could comment on the impact of World War II on how that wave
of immigration was perceived.>>Linda Osborne: Not an
expert on all immigration, but how did World War II have
an impact on later immigration? As I mentioned, in 1952, there was another immigration
law passed, the McCarron law. And it did not take
away national quotas. So it talked about trying
to reunite families here. No, no, sorry. It did not take away the quotas. They still remained low. People found ways to come
here outside the quota system. We began to take refugees,
although actually unfortunately, very few after World War II. But those would mostly
have been Jewish refugees. I don’t think the same
psychological obstacles were there towards people coming. But the rules were
there until 1965. And that’s when they
abandoned the quota system. And I know people who
came in that period, too often they were — for
one thing they were often not poverty-stricken from the
19th century with no hope. In Italy they were
educated, they were skilled. And they could fly here. It was just a very, very different group
of people applying. But in terms of the numbers,
the actual numbers, I’m not sure that there was an enormous
difference until after ’65. I’m not sure though. Good question.>>Constance Morella: Do we have
any other comments or questions? How about a comment about
how great the panel was? [ Applause ] They really were. [ Applause ] Diana, do you have
any final comments?>>Diana Femia: My final
comment is thank you. Thank you to Grant and Lucia, and thank you to
the great panel.>>Constance Morella: And
the audience who’s great too. And our timing was perfect. Thank you.>>Father Ezio Marchetto: So
gain, if anybody is interested in a bibliography or a list
of sources, it’s there. Thank you.>>Linda Osborne: And I
will make one more pitch.>>Constance Morella:
Yep, this is your chance.>>Linda Osborne: This
is my young adult book. This Land is Our Land. It was published in 2016 as
the campaign was going on. It has done very well,
probably because of that. It is, and I’m told by my
editors and other people, considering that I
have a point of view, it’s a fairly unbiased
look at immigration from all parts of the world.>>Constance Morella: Fantastic.>>Linda Osborne: So thank you.>>Constance Morella: How long
did you have to work on it? How long was it in the making?>>Linda Osborne: A
little over a year, and you know, this is amazing. It was supposed to come
out a season early.

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